What is an IP address?
IP stands for Internet Protocol, and your Internet Protocol address is a unique series of numbers containing information about your device’s location which is used to identify your system on a network. It is comprised of two numbers: one that is private to your local network and one that identifies your device on the wider internet.
Your IP address is used to locate your machine on a network and trace your online activities. Any time that you connect to the internet a record will be kept of what sites you have been visiting, as your IP address will have been logged into the sites being accessed. Your IP address contains information about the country, state, city and ZIP code of your device, allowing the websites that you access to send information to the right location.
Why would I change my IP address?
There are a number of reasons that you may want to change your IP address. Here are a number of scenarios in which it would be useful for you to know how to change your IP address:
- Router problems – if you install a new router you may have to reconfigure your home network, this may require you to change your IP address in order to be able to use the new router. Routers that are not operating correctly might be providing unusable IP addresses – you will need to change your IP to a valid address to be able to connect to the internet.
- Blocked sites and content – often access is restricted to certain sites and content based on your geographical location. You can change your IP address so that you can access restricted sites and content, for example, accessing the US version of Netflix when you are on a trip abroad.
- Privacy – many individuals do not want their online activities tracked. Your internet service provider can track all of your online activity, even when you are browsing in incognito/private mode. Changing your IP address can help to protect your privacy online.
- Political action – if you are involved with anti-government activity, especially in countries with authoritarian rule, you may want to change your IP address regularly to avoid prosecution and remain anonymous.
How to Change Your IP Address
There are three main ways you can change your IP address, but bear in mind that they may vary a little depending on whether you have a Windows device or an Apple device. The methods you can use to change your IP address are
- manually changing it
- automatically changing it
- using a VPN or a Proxy server to change it
Automatically changing your IP address can be as simple as resetting your modem. When your modem resets, so does your IP address, so try unplugging your modem for at least 30 seconds and then plugging it back in and connecting as normal. Alternatively, you can change your location. By switching to a different Wi-Fi network your IP address will automatically change.
These three methods all change your private IP address but changing your public IP address can be a little more complicated. Your best bet is to contact your Internet Service Provider if you want to change your public IP address as they will generally have this power.
If you wish to change your IP address manually or using a VPN or proxy server please follow our basic instructions below.
Changing Your IP address on a Mac
- Go to System Preferences and select Network.
- Highlight your network on the left-hand side and then select Advanced... from the bottom right.
- Select TCP/IP.
- Select Manually from the Configure IPv4 menu.
- Update your IP address and settings to your desired configuration.
- Click OK.
- Test and change again if necessary.
If this does not correlate with your current Mac, then you should be able to find guides online for how to change IP address on your particular model and version.
Changing Your IP address on Windows 10
- Go to Control Panel and select Network and Sharing Center.
- Select Connections and click on the Properties tab of the window that opens.
- Select Internet Protocol version 4 (TCP/IP v4).
- Select Use the following IP address and fill in your desired IP address.
- Select Use the following DNS and enter the correct address.
- Check the Validate settings upon exit box and click OK.
- Your PC will then automatically run a network diagnostics test to verify your connection.
If this does not correlate with your current Windows computer then you should be able to find guides online for how to change IP address on your particular model and version.
Changing Your IP Address Using a VPN or Proxy Server
The methods mentioned above will most likely be useful for those wishing to configure their devices with a Wi-Fi network or to sort out problems with a modem. If your reason for changing your IP address is to stop geo-blocking of sites and content, or to maintain your online privacy then using a proxy server or VPN, which means Virtual Private Network, may be a more effective solution.
When you use a VPN or proxy server you are essentially cloaking the IP address of your machine. The IP of the proxy/VPN is what will be tracked on the internet, rather than your device’s IP address.
Good quality VPN services are reliable and have servers located in many countries, allowing you to get around most restrictions enforced by your local authorities or your ISP. You can use free VPN services, but if you are serious about your privacy then it is better to use a paid VPN service so that you know you are getting a reliable service. Some highly recommended VPN service providers include NordVPN, Express VPN and CyberGhost.